By the way, this book is 100% real: Rapper Mac Lethal on his new Texts From Bennett novel

Mac+Lethal
Mac Lethal is a rapper too, by the way.

Two years ago, an ingeniously simple Tumblr featuring the copy-and-pasted text messages of a “17-year-old white boy who thinks he’s a Crip, works at Amoco, has a girlfriend named Mercedes, and is one of the most unintentionally funny and brilliant souls on the planet” almost broke the Internet, so rapid and immense was its popularity and reach.

If you don’t know what we’re talking about, we can only assume you were hanging out under a very large rock during late 2011, because Texts From Bennett just might be one of the defining Internet memes of our time.

The Tumblr, which instantly whipped the world wide web into a frenzy of delight, horror and speculation as to whether or not Bennett was a fake, turned out to be the creation of Kansas City rapper Mac Lethal (aka David Shelton) who felt that his wannabe gangster cousin Bennett’s loveably crass and mostly inane texts were too good not to share with the world. Now, Lethal has turned the popular Tumblr into a novel. We checked in with the rapper/author in between stops on his “Texts From Bennett Tour,” during which he’ll be signing copies of the new book and performing live.

When you first started Texts From Bennett, did you have any idea it was going to be such an insane phenomenon?

I had no idea it would be this huge. The world wasn’t ready for a 17-year-old Crip with the inability to speak coherent English.

How did you get the idea to start the Tumblr?

I needed a place to collect the screenshots because my phones kept breaking and losing them all, so I started it with no intention of it ever being big.

People seemed really pissed — like weirdly pissed — when they found out that you were a rapper and Bennett’s veracity came into question…

People get more upset and impassioned about Texts From Bennett than they do about me bashing religion, making political statements, etc. It’s really annoying to see how lame and pointless some people’s lives are. It’s a wannabe gangster with a stuffed bunny rabbit. Is it that serious?

So you really don’t even embellish his texts at all to make them funnier?

I don’t know how I could? I don’t know how to text message myself.

Then, the most obvious question is, how is it that Bennett didn’t come across the Tumblr right away?

People like Bennett (there’s a lot of them) don’t have access to the Internet. Bennett goes outside and is social with people. Which is strangely ironic considering all the detractors of the blog just sit around drinking Mountain Dew floats all day, playing Call of Duty.

He must know about it by now, though. How did he react when he first found out?

He just wanted to know if he could get cute girls with “big titties” because of his newfound fame.

And he keeps texting you these crazy things, after all this time…

At this point I have to weed out any of the ones that seem like he’s putting on a show. I still catch him off guard here and there, though.

What’s the book about — is it just a collection of his texts or is it more of a narrative?

It’s a single narrative about Bennett and his mom, my Aunt Lillian, coming to live with me for a summer.

What’s Bennett like in real life?

Gentle. Tattooed. Surprisingly supportive in all aspects of life. He’s the type of kid who would rather come along for the ride to something you were doing, and be happy for your good experience, than try to impose his own experiences on you. He has a big heart… just misled.

Do you think this exposure has helped your music career or hurt it?

I don’t know, in 2013 it’s hard to gauge if careers can be helped or hurt. Most of them exist, have peaks and valleys, become hot, become cold, become hot again. Miley Cyrus is the hottest thing in the world right now, but we can’t say that it’s necessarily helping her. ZZ Ward was this huge, promising female vocalist a year ago, and is nowhere to be found now, according to my friends who listen to her. So I try not to focus on reputation or keeping track of my blemishes. Some stuff works, some stuff doesn’t. All I know is since 2002 I have never had a year that wasn’t more eventful than the one before it. So it’s all been good.

How has it changed your life, in general?

Not trying to be a greaseball, but I’ll save this for the book. Because the answer is in it.

What are you prouder of, the sensation that was Texts From Bennett or the sensation that was your “Pancake Rap” video?

Both were amazing. But I’m most proud of how they blew up at the exact same time and were massive. That’s unheard of.

At this point, would you say that people recognize you more for Bennett or for your music?

It’s hard to say. Fans of my music are connected on a much deeper level than fans of Texts From Bennett. So, they make themselves known and communicate with me and latch onto the songs I write because it enables them to process pain. Texts From Bennett is more for fun than anything else.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Grimm choice: Tax fraud trial could dog NY…

Rep. Michael Grimm may be splitting his time between the campaign trail and a courtroom where he is due to face tax evasion charges.

Local

Met Opera, unions extend talks for 72 hours,…

Met Opera agreed to extend negotiations with its labor unions for 72 hours, preventing a threatened lockout, the organization said late Thursday.

Local

MAP: New York City street closures August 2…

Summer Streets, the NYC Triathlon, the Ecuadorian Parade and festivals will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend.

Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on 'Calvary' and his very…

Brendan Gleeson discusses how "Calvary" began over drinks and how his priest character is the opposite of the officer he played in "The Guard."

Movies

Interview: Chris O'Dowd does funny and serious in…

Chris O'Dowd talks about "Calvary," an Irish comedy-drama about a priest (Brendan Gleeson) under fire.

Movies

'Alive Inside' and 'Code Black' are documentaries with…

Two new documentaries — "Alive Inside" and "Code Black" — portray different issues but suffer from the same problem.

Music

Caught a Ghost catches a soul/rap vibe

Jesse Nolan says Caught a Ghost's sound aims for two things everybody likes: soul music and '90s rap.

MLB

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade…

Yankees land Stephen Drew, Martin Prado at trade deadline

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…